There is nothing wrong in dreaming about riding an elephant! Mr P wanted to ride an elephant, get his picture taken in that glory, and post it on Facebook. This wish had budded in his mind ever since he saw the movie Bride and Prejudice, where the hero and heroine rode on an elephant in the last scene. Mr P had thought it was pretty cool!
So this time on his tour to India, P visited the elephant park at Kottoor in Kerala. As soon as he reached the place, P booked his ride straight away. He was given a time to turn up at a spot for his ride and in the meantime, P decided to take a walk around the park. He saw several elephants – they ranged from very young, hairy ones to huge giants. It was then that P realized that all of a sudden he was actually getting quite nervous about riding an elephant. P began to feel that he needed to keep at a distance from them, even from the baby ones. The baby elephants were too playful and seemed to want to tickle his ears with their trunks! As for the big, adult elephants, he felt them giving him such deep looks as if they knew all his darkest secrets! Of course he had heard about how intelligent elephants were.
He now started having serious reservations about the elephant ride but was worried that if he withdrew now, it would make him look like a coward. So, when the time came, he made his way to the location with shaking legs. The mahout was waiting for him with a huge elephant.
Faint heartedly, P gazed at the large mammal which seemed to give him a mean, disdainful look.
“Can I have a ride on that elephant?” Mr P asked pointing to a frolicking baby elephant that stood some distance away.
“Oh! No sir! It is too small to carry people. We only use adult elephants for rides,” said the mahout.
With no way of escape, P decided to climb on top of the giant that had now bent down on its knees at the instance of the mahout.
“If Tarzan can do it, so can I,” muttered Mr P as he proceeded to mount.
Climbing onto the back of an elephant was indeed a feat and after several aborted attempts, P finally made it to the top. As the elephant stood up erect, he sat astride on its back. Those who have sat astride on top of an elephant would realize how wide apart you have to keep your legs! It was almost like doing the splits!
As the elephant moved forward, P felt very uncomfortable, so much so that he decided to change his position to side-straddle. Slowly he moved his legs around and finally managed to get them both together and down on one side of the elephant. However, on sitting sideways he found that he had moved too much to one side. As the elephant walked, P kept slithering and sliding further down the side of the elephant every time it moved. His silky, smooth track pants only aggravated the situation.
P decided that falling down from the top of an elephant would not be an enjoyable experience. So a flustered Mr P then decided to return back to his original position and sit astride. He started moving his legs around once more. However, he had lost his sense of orientation in his anxiety and when he finished adjusting his seating, he found that he was sitting astride facing the tail end of the elephant! So P started to turn around again.
Changing one’s position atop a moving elephant is not an easy task for a person riding an elephant for the first time, but misfortune had not glanced his way, ……. yet. With the last move however, P nearly fell off and was saved only by grabbing the rope around the elephant’s neck. Somehow he maneuvered himself back on top. He was now lying prostrate on top of the elephant, facing its tail end and hugging the animal for dear life. Hearing a loud applause he slowly lifted up his head and saw that he had gathered a huge audience. A big crowd had gathered and was watching P’s antics on top of the elephant. No one could be blamed if they thought they were watching an atop-the-elephant-acrobatic show and were showing their appreciation with a loud ovation.
The elephant and the mahout however, had no such conceptions. The stressed probiscidean was getting very nervous and the mahout decided to end the joy ride. Very soon (though it felt like eternity to P), the elephant stopped moving and the mahout got it to kneel down. He gathered brave Mr P from the back of the animal. P had nearly fainted. A big cheering from the crowd got P standing up on his wobbly legs to acknowledge their appreciation but saw that the applause was intended for the elephant and the mahout. With an end to all the wriggling on its back, the Elephas maximus indicus breathed a deep sigh of relief and stood up. The mahout and the elephant looked traumatised as they slowly walked away. They probably would need counselling! No pictures or videos were taken, so Facebook missed a hilarious upload!